Friday, September 29, 2006

I Wish That I Knew What I Know Now...

A couple of days ago, I was in the local Albertson’s supermarket and the background music was “Oo La La.”

I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was younger.
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was stronger.

The rest of the song is more than a wee bit on the dumb side, but darned near everybody older than 25 hums along to the chorus and wishes it were indeed so.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have kept Dell the first time I bought it, sold it all in 2000, and retired. Heck, I would have bought Microsoft back in the 80’s, as well as that 25 acres in southern Travis County I thought at the time was just a wee bit too pricey. I would have gone to class more back when I was in college - and I would definitely have taken better care of myself, instead of trying to prove with every passing year that my waist size + my I.Q. = a constant.

That’s the sort of thing that has always crossed my mind whenever I’ve heard that song, and I suspect that I’m not particularly unusual. This time, for some reason, it struck me that I wish I knew what I now know spiritually back when I was younger and stronger. How much difference would that have made in my life? How much difference would it have made in the lives of my family and of other people? Perhaps I wouldn’t be saved “only as one escaping through the flames.”

On the other hand, perhaps I’m still alive today because a Merciful God knew from the beginning just how slow a learner I am. And escaping through the flames is a whole lot better than being stuck in them.

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart… (Rom 6:17, RSV)

Selective Compassion

An interesting commentary from on the selective compassion for those the Left deems victims, passed along (almost) without comment. (By the way -, the website of International Christian Concern, tracks persecution of the Christian Faith worldwide. A periodic review of their site is a real eye-opener.)

“’I was in prison and you visited me,’ Jesus says in Matthew 25:36. But the detainees at Guantánamo are not permitted visitors. I know this from personal experience,” Edgar blogged. “The National Council of Churches (That Nobody Goes to Anymore - ed.) requested to visit these children of God simply to see how they were being treated,” he piously shared. “We simply wanted to visit these prisoners as our Lord commands in Matthew 25:40.”

Edgar’s and the NCC’s interests in prisoners seems to be very specifically confined to the dozens of interned terrorists at Guantanamo. But there are millions of prisoners around the world; most of them are genuinely criminal. But tens of thousands of them are incarcerated only for their political or religious beliefs, including thousands of Edgar’s fellow Christians.

My colleague Faith McDonnell, a prominent religious liberty advocate, has appealed to Edgar to take a break from his Guantanamo preoccupation and look at 12 or so specific Christian prisoners of conscience, several of whom are facing death sentences for believing in Jesus. The prisoners she identifies include several Chinese, a Vietnamese, three Indonesians, an Egyptian, a Cuban, an Eritrean, and a North Korean, all of whom suffer because they defied Communism or Islam. These sufferings interest the NCC not at all.

The Guantanamo prisoners are cause celebres with the anti-American international Left. While the detainees’ dietary and religious needs are carefully tended to, leagues of lawyers advocate on their behalf, the international media report their every hiccup, and ostensible human rights groups devote tens of thousands of man hours to argue for their legal protections. In return, the al-Qaeda and Taliban hooligans probably have only contempt for the Western secularists and leftist Christians who plead on their behalf. In a world governed by al-Qaeda, church officials like Bob Edgar would be beheaded, and the NCC suppressed into dhimmitude, i.e., subordination to Islamic law.

Meanwhile, the 350 Montagnard Christians imprisoned and tortured by the Vietnamese communist regime do not have much hope of media attention or international visitors. Neither does Pastor Gong Shengliang, formerly pastor of a 50,000 congregation, now into his fifth year of wasting away in a Chinese communist prison. Coptic Christian Hesham Azmy Iskender and six of his fellow Copts have been in an Egyptian prison since April, after their arrest at a Christian funeral for the victim of an Islamist knife stabbing. Eritrean Gospel singer has spent much of the last two years incarcerated in a shipping container for her evangelical beliefs. Indonesian Sunday school teacher Rebekka Zakaria is serving time with two of her Christian friends after being accused by Islamists of trying to convert Muslim children.

Western church officials love to visit Fidel Castro’s Cuba, but so far, not many have pressed to visit Christian dissident Jorge Luis García Perez Antunez. He’s been in prison for 16 years, often confined to a “tiny, sealed cell with no light or bedding, typically overflowing with excrement and infested with rats and insects,” according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide. Unfortunately for him, as with the others listed above, they are not enemies of the United States. So Bob Edgar and his U.S. church council are not agitating for visits or disseminating news releases on their behalf.

Already by January 2003, the NCC had endorsed a friend of the court brief for the U.S. Supreme Court demanding that Guantanamo detainees be empowered to challenge their detention. “The National Council of Churches
(That Nobody Goes to Anymore – ed.) has a long tradition of advocating for civil liberties and human rights,” asserted Antonios Kireopoulos, the NCC’s Associate General Secretary for International Affairs and Peace. Early this year, the NCC “emphatically supported"” a United Nations report demanding that the U.S. close the detention center at Guantanamo. For the third time, Edgar asked permission for a “small interfaith delegation” just to peek in at the prisoners. “Today we renew that request, not only for the benefit of the detainees but for the benefit of the reputation of our country in an increasingly skeptical world,” Edgar intoned.

Almost amusingly, in late 2004, Edgar denounced the U.S. for detaining Chinese Uighur Muslims at Guantanamo. The Uighurs had been in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Having found them no longer a threat, the U.S. wanted to release them, but could not return them to China, where they would have been imprisoned or killed. Edgar demanded that they be given immediate refugee status in the U.S., since Uighurs are a “persecuted minority” in China. It was a rare and no doubt grudging admission for Edgar that all is not well in communist China. Rejecting Chinese demands for their return, the U.S. ended up sending the Uighurs to Albania, about which Edgar appears not have commented.

Edgar had offered the services of the NCC’s relief arm in the Uighurs’ potential U.S. resettlement. Such hospitality! The NCC has also helped to transport family members of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. for media events. Who knows how much the NCC has spent on its Guantanamo advocacy, but it is a safe assumption that this budget line item is exponentially larger than the NCC’s line item for persecuted Christians. “We have a long way to go before we can truly stand as a beacon of Christ’s light for the rest of the world,” Edgar penned in his blog about Guantanamo. “I pray that Congress and the Supreme Court may continue to apply pressure on the president to meet the basic standards of the Geneva Convention; I pray that those people of faith who courageously wrote letters, rang phones on Capitol Hill, and spoke boldly about the love of their Lord may be given the gift of perseverance.”

We can also pray that persecuted Christians, whose imprisonment, torture and death sentences do not much interest Edgar’s Guantanamo-obsessed NCC, will also be given “the gift of perseverance.”

Another Sad Priests-Gone-Bad Story

Is there never an end to stories like this?

From The Palm Beach Post:
Two former priests at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church in Delray Beach have been accused of misappropriating $8.6 million from the church during the past 40 years.

[…] Former pastors John Skehan and Francis Guinan were both charged with grand theft over $100,000.

"These guys lived the life they told everyone else not to live - and they lived it on everyone else's dime," police spokesman officer Jeff Messer said. "And one of the seven deadly sins is greed."

Skehan, 79, was arrested Wednesday night at Palm Beach International Airport on a flight from Ireland, where he reportedly owned property.

He was remorseful as he confessed to taking the money, Detective Thomas Whatley said.

Guinan, who became head pastor in 2003, is alleged to have taken $400,000 for his personal use, including paying for his gambling habit and trips to the Bahamas and Las Vegas.

[…] Skehan reportedly deposited nearly $1.6 million in four bank accounts in cash, donation checks written by congregants, donated stock sales from the building fund and bequeathed money, according to his arrest report.

He used $134,075 to pay for his alleged lover's expenses, gave $11,688 to family members and used another $268,630 for personal expenses, including car payments, dental work, property taxes, credit card payments and condo association fees, according to the report.

[…] Guinan is alleged to have spent at least $90,000 of it on airline, hotels and restaurants in Las Vegas and the Bahamas, according to Mike Driscoll, special agent supervisor for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which assisted in the investigation.

The investigation also found that he spent money on dental and medical expenses, decorating his home and paying the Cardinal Newman High School tuition for his alleged lover's son, according to the report.

[…] Guinan and Skehan are on administrative leave and cannot act as priests until the conclusion of the criminal investigation, Barbarito (the local Bishop) said.

He said that Guinan resigned and retired during the investigation. Barbarito said he had already started the process to remove Guinan when he retired.

[…] Barbarito asked the faithful to pray for the churches, the diocese and the two priests accused of crimes.

Another sad tale of guys who probably never should have been admitted to the priesthood in the first place - click the original story and look at their faces. The moral collapse of the American Church in the last half of the last century is a gift that just keeps on giving and giving, scandalizing the faithful and bringing disgrace to the good priests out there. How many people have had their faith damaged by guys like these? How many people have not come to Christ because of scandals in the Church? Is my generation going to have to die off completely before affairs like this return to the realm of the rare and unusual? St. Francis, come back! You’re needed!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Parental Consent Laws Have Positive Effects

I won’t be holding my breath while waiting to see this reported in the New York Times.

Tallahassee, September 28, 2006 ( - Laws that require minors to notify or get the consent of one or both parents before having an abortion reduce risky sexual behavior among teens, according to a Florida State University law professor in Tallahassee, Fla.

Jonathan Klick, the Jeffrey A. Stoops Professor of Law, and Thomas Stratmann, professor of economics at George Mason University, came to that conclusion after they looked at the rates of gonorrhea among teenage girls as a measure of risky sex in connection to the parental notification or consent laws that were in effect at the time.

The researchers found that teen gonorrhea rates dropped by an average of 20 percent for Hispanic girls and 12 percent for white girls in states where parental notification laws were in effect. The results were not statistically significant for black girls. The study will be published in an upcoming edition of The Journal of Law Economics and Organization.

"Incentives matter," Klick said. "They matter even in activities as primal as sex, and they matter even among teenagers, who are conventionally thought to be short-sighted

[…] In this case, the incentive for teens is to avoid having to tell their parents about a pregnancy by substituting less risky sex activities. In doing so, the researchers say, the rates of gonorrhea among girls under the age of 20 went down.

[…] The researchers ruled out the possibility that teens simply substitute risky sexual behaviors for which pregnancy is not a concern, such as oral or anal intercourse, because these activities still could transmit gonorrhea. The use of birth control pills also would not protect against the sexually transmitted disease.

The best way to avoid telling your mom and dad that you’re pregnant is to not get pregnant. The easiest way to not get pregnant is to avoid unprotected sexual intercourse. The easiest way to avoid unprotected sexual intercourse is to stay out of the back seat. Duh. Teenagers may tend toward the wild side; that doesn’t mean they tend toward the stupid side.

Driving Without Gas

Today’s readings from the daily office include one of my favorite passages from the Acts of the Apostles. The setting is Paul’s third missionary journey to Greece and Asia Minor in the mid-50’s A.D., during which time he spent three years in and around Ephesus, a city of several hundred thousand people.

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that when the handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, their diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.’ 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit said to them in reply, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?’ 16 Then the man with the evil spirit leapt on them, mastered them all, and so overpowered them that they fled out of the house naked and wounded. 17 When this became known to all residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks, everyone was awestruck; and the name of the Lord Jesus was praised. 18 Also many of those who became believers confessed and disclosed their practices. 19 A number of those who practised magic collected their books and burned them publicly; when the value of these books was calculated, it was found to come to fifty thousand silver coins. 20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. (19:11-20, NRSV)

This is one of several passages in Acts that are both theologically meaningful and more than a bit comical. The mental image of these seven would-be exorcists running through the streets, naked, bloody, and limping, chased by some raving lunatic, will make a wonderful comic-relief scene if they ever make a movie out of Acts.

Even though it’s funny, it reflects an attitude that is still around, at both the personal and corporate level. Speaking for myself, I’m a whole lot better at asking things “in Jesus’ name, amen,” than I am at being a disciple. It’s no wonder Satan so frequently hands me my rear end on a platter.

At the corporate level, one of the characteristics of the Church in the West – especially the mainline Protestant denominations, though the Catholics aren’t immune – is a constant effort to invoke the power of God while being completely unwilling to recognize the authority of God. I remember, in my old denomination, constant references to how God will take care of His Church in times of trouble, when the same Church was expressing absolutely no interest in following the revealed commands of the God they were counting on to prosper them. The bishops seem to be like loud environmentalists with big SUVs. They want the power that comes from a big V-8, but they really aren’t willing to pump the oil to fuel it. Eventually they’ll find themselves in nice leather seats, halfway up the Mountain of God, with an empty fuel tank. I really don’t want to be there when the powerless hulk starts rolling back downhill.

A few years ago, when I was a vestry member, a request was made to put up a poster of the Twelve Steps in the Parish Hall. (The Twelve Steps were originally developed by Alcoholics Anonymous many years ago and are now used by many different recovery and self-help groups.) Someone not familiar with the Twelve Steps wanted to know what they were, so the guy making the request read them out loud. I was a bit stunned that the version of the Twelve Steps as read had been carefully amended to avoid any reference to God. My first comment was, “Do these people actually think they can take God out of those steps and still have them work?” You can’t have the power if you remove the power source. It’s sad. A gasless SUV may coast along for a while on fumes and inertia. Recovery groups, or the Church, may coast along for a while on the remnant of those current members who are still committed to the God Who is, as opposed to the god they might prefer. Once those people are gone, and have been replaced by people brought up in the current paradigm who simply don’t know any better, the gas tank will be truly and fully empty. When that happens, I’m afraid, there’s going to be one hell of a crash.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Winning the Culture War by Natural Selection

According to USA Today, political affiliations in the USA divide quite strongly on the basis of marriage status:
House districts held by Republicans are full of married people. Democratic districts are stacked with people who have never married. This "marriage gap" could play a role in the Nov. 7 congressional elections. Democrats need a net gain of 15 seats to take control of the House of Representatives.

Twenty-seven of the 38 Republican-held districts with seats considered vulnerable by independent political analysts have fewer married people than found in the average GOP district. The USA TODAY analysis also shows that:

•Republicans control 49 of the 50 districts with the highest rates of married people.

•Democrats represent all 50 districts that have the highest rates of adults who have never married.

The political tug-of-war is between people who are married and those who have never been.

The "never married" group covers a variety of groups who form the Democratic base: young people, those who marry late in life, single parents, gays, and heterosexuals who live together.

[…] For example, the two seats most likely to switch from Republican to Democratic are Arizona's 8th District and Colorado's 7th District, according to the non-partisan National Journal. The districts — in which Republican incumbents are not seeking re-election — rank 251st and 307th respectively in marriage rates among the 435 districts.

They also divide quite strongly on the basis of having children:
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic mother of five from San Francisco, has fewer children in her district than any other member of Congress: 87,727.

Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, a Mormon father of eight, represents the most children: 278,398.

These two extremes reflect a stark demographic divide between the congressional districts controlled by the major political parties.

Republican House members overwhelmingly come from districts that have high percentages of married people and lots of children, according to a USA TODAY analysis of 2005 Census Bureau data released last month.

GOP Congress members represent 39.2 million children younger than 18, about 7 million more than Democrats. Republicans average 7,000 more children per district.

I’m not going into party affiliations, since – of the two major American political parties - I loathe one and I’m currently pretty miffed at the other. Strictly in terms of social traditionalists and social liberals, however – who are still largely reflected in the split between Repubs and Dems – these statistics are both predictable and telling.

A strong case can be made that the ideals of social liberals center on unfettered personal autonomy, reflected strongly in our society in the right to freedom of sexual expression and freedom from the constraints of reproduction. The results are hardly surprising.

Social liberals tend not to get married; they tend to contracept; and they tend to have abortions in order to avoid the burden of children. These are hardly exclusive predilections – I’m sure you can find plenty of “traditionalists” who push their mistresses into abortion clinics after cheating on their wives - but, in terms of worldview, sexual promiscuity, singleness, and avoidance of children are heavily weighted towards the lib side.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, there have been over 45,000,000 abortions in the USA since Roe v. Wade. If we assume that the socially liberal-to-traditional division among these is just 60-40, and assume that as many liberal children turn conservative as conservative turn liberal, then there has been a net loss over 33 years of 9,000,000 social liberals. If you set the divide at 67/33 (possibly a bit high), the difference becomes 15,000,000. And that does not include other factors effecting fertility differences.

In other words, from a biological perspective, social liberalism, as currently practiced, is an evolutionary dead end. In a democracy, their voting power will disappear far more quickly than their presence in the gene pool. It is ironic that, in the grand scheme of things, the primary factor that leads to the final overturning of Roe v. Wade may be an unintended consequence of Roe v. Wade itself.

Christianity in Britain on the Way Out?

From The Church Times (UK):
First, the bad news from the 2005 English Church Census, published on Monday. Churchgoing in England continues to decline at a rate of 2.3 per cent a year.

But there is good news, too. The rate of decline has slowed from that of the 1990s, when numbers fell by 2.7 per cent a year.

For clarification: A 2.7% decline per year means you lose half your membership by 2031; a 2.3% decline per year means you lose half your membership by 2036. It’s not really much of a victory.

The census, conducted by Christian Research, was sent to all 37,500 known churches in England in May 2005, and half of them responded. The title of the findings is Pulling out of the Nosedive, referring to the signs of recovery after a troubling decade.

Of course, pulling out of a nosedive only works if you have sufficient altitude to begin with. Otherwise, it only changes the shape of the hole you make in the ground.

The fortunes of the various denominations differed (see table, right). Whereas the average drop across the board was 15 per cent in the seven years since the last survey, in 1998, the Church of England declined by only 11 per cent. The fastest rates of decline were among Roman Catholics and Methodists; whereas the Pentecostal Churches showed significant growth over the period.

As a result, Methodism has dropped to fourth place behind Pentecostalism. If these rates continue, the C of E will overtake the RC Church within the next four years.

It is a sad commentary when your source of hope is that your neighbor is dying faster than you are. Perhaps the last parishioner of the Church of England will be able to dance on the grave of the last British Catholic. By the way, I looked up a definition of “overtake” – to catch up with and pass by. I really don’t think they are using the word correctly.

Two notable factors stand out from the results. One is the significance of ethnicity. The black-led Churches, especially the ones that attract immigrants, have grown during the past seven years. Ten per cent of all churchgoers responding to the survey were non-white.

The same will probably be true of Anglican Churches in the USA, where many of the most vigorous and orthodox congregations and dioceses are hoping desperately for “black leadership” from the African Primates, and would be overjoyed to kneel and kiss the ring of a black Archbishop. Had it happened earlier, Lovely-and-Faithful-Wife and I might still be members of the Episcopal Church.

It is interesting that the only English churches maintaining themselves or growing are those with a high view of scripture and of Christian morality and behavior. In the meantime, the dying churches continue to try to attract the uninterested by chasing after the culture. No one ever seems to realize that a church which doesn't call you to a different life isn't a church that calls you to bother getting up on Sunday mornings. It's almost as if God has sent upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false. Wait a minute; I could swear I've read that someplace...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

For Those in Central Texas

Our Lady's Maronite Catholic Parish invites you to spend
A Morning with Fr. Mitch Pacwa!
November 18, 2006

9:00 a.m.: Doors Open
9:30 a.m.: Session One "Dealing with Depression and Disappointment in Our Lives"
11:10 a.m.: Session Two "Praying the Scriptures"

Each talk will be followed by a 30 minute Question and Answer period. The morning will wrap up with a book signing and reception in Fr. Pacwa's honor.

Registration is $20.00 per person, and registration will be accepted until all spaces are filled.

To register for A Morning with Fr. Pacwa, please print out the registration form, complete it, and return it with your payment to
Our Lady's Maronite Catholic Parish
1320 E. 51st Street
Austin TX 78723

Please call 512-458-3692 for more information.

(Brief Bio from the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology):
Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J., Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, is a Jesuit priest and popular television host of several EWTN ( television and radio programs, including EWTN Live and The Holy Rosary in the Holy Land.

An accomplished biblical scholar and apologist, Father Pacwa earned his Ph.D. in Old Testament from Vanderbilt University. He also holds a Master of Divinity and S.T.B. from the Jesuit School of Theology at Loyola University. He speaks 12 languages, including Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, and Koine Greek.

Father Pacwa is author of:

all published by Servant Books.

He is founder of Ignatius Productions - a multi-media teaching apostolate that features his books, tapes, and video productions.

Pope's Islam Comments are Hardly Unique

From a column by A. Surya Prakash in The Daily Pioneer (India):
Following the assassination of Swami Shraddhanand at the hands of a Muslim fanatic in December, 1926, Mahatma Gandhi had said: "Mussalmans have an ordeal to pass through. There can be no doubt that they are too free with the knife and the pistol. The sword is an emblem of Islam. But Islam was born in an environment where the sword was, and still remains, the supreme law. The message of Jesus has proved ineffective because the environment was unready to receive it. So with the message of the Prophet. The sword is yet too much in evidence among the Mussalmans. It must be sheathed if Islam is to be what it means - peace." This was 80 years ago

[…] Long years before Gandhi spoke his mind on Islam, Swami Vivekananda told a gathering in London in November, 1896: "In the Quran there is the doctrine that a man who does not believe these teachings should be killed. It is a mercy to kill him! Think of the bloodshed there has been in consequence of such beliefs!"

Annie Besant
(theosophist and advocate of a free India – TWA) said in 1922 that the argument of the Muslim leadership that they are ordained to obey Islamic law as against laws made by the state is "subversive of civic order and stability of the state". BR Ambedkar, the author of our Constitution, too, has emphatically stated that Islam divided the world into Dar-ul Islam ( Abode of Islam) and Dar-ul Harb (Abode of War) and that it is incumbent of Muslims to wage war against any country that is not controlled by Muslims.

In recent years, Samuel Huntington, the Harvard Professor who has propagated the 'Clash of Civilisations' theory, has observed: "The Quran and other statements of Muslim belief contain few prohibitions on violence, and a concept of non-violence is absent from Muslim doctrine and practice."

So what is new in what the Pope said some days ago in Germany? Shall we now put Gandhi, Ambedkar, Annie Besant and Vivekananda in the dustbin of history and mollify the hotheads in the Islamic world, or shall we stand up and tell these radical Islamists that the liberal, democratic world has now run out of patience?

Although I am obviously not an enthusiast of Hindu theology, no one has ever accused them of being idiots. The Indians have had a lot of first-hand experience with Islam, having been occupied to varying degrees for about a thousand years, and do not harbor many illusions as to its historical nature. Since so many American libs are enthusiasts of Eastern cultures and religions, perhaps they should pay more attention to the experiences of the actual human beings of those cultures and religions.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Former Prime Minister Sticks it to Islam

MADRID, Sept 23: Former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar on Friday defended Pope Benedict XVI’s comments about Islam, saying the pontiff had no need to apologise and asking why Muslims never did, according to newspaper reports published on Saturday.

“Why do we always have to say sorry and they never do?” Mr Aznar told a conference in the United States.

“It is interesting to note that while a lot of people in the world are asking the pope to apologise for his speech, I have never heard a Muslim say sorry for having conquered Spain and occupying it for eight centuries.”

He was referring to the Muslim conquest of much of the Iberian peninsula, which lasted from the eighth to the 15th century.

[...] Addressing Friday’s conference in Washington on ‘global threats’, Mr Aznar said: “We are living in a time of war... It’s them or us. The West did not attack Islam, it was they who attacked us.

“We must face up to an Islam that is ambitious, that is radical and that influences the Muslim world, a fundamentalist Islam that we must confront because we don’t have any choice.

“We are constantly under attack and we must defend ourselves,” he said.

“I support Ferdinand and Isabella,” he proclaimed, in reference to the medieval Catholic monarchs who drove Muslims out of Spain in 1492.

And therein lies the crux of the whole one-sided issue. Islamic rage is nothing more than an attempt to impose Islamic rules on non-Islamic countries by intimidating them into accepting Islam as the default intellectual position. If Islam is beyond discussion and criticism in the Public Square, then it becomes, essentially, the de facto established religion.

We’re supposed to apologize for quoting a Byzantine emperor whose kingdom would, in a few decades, be conquered, raped, and sacked by the Ottoman (Moslem) Turks. Has anyone on the Moslem side apologized for that?

We are supposed to apologize for the Crusades, but will someone please tell me how the Holy Land got to be Moslem in the first place? Did the Byzantines sell it? No, I don’t think so. Was there a popular referendum? No. Did everybody read the Koran, decide Mohammed had the right of it, and convert? Well, no –Jerusalem was conquered by the sword in 638.

By the way, this was only ten years after Mohammed’s slaughter of the vast numbers of Arabian Jews who refused to convert. Does anyone remember that Medina was originally a Jewish settlement?

I don’t think anyone’s demanding a return to the pre - A.D. 610 borders, for heaven’s sake. But let’s have a little less holier-than-thou from the Moslem side. And let’s have the same tolerance for the free expression of Christianity and other religions in Riyadh and Tehran that Moslems demand for themselves in, say, Detroit or London.

Supreme Court Interferes With Marriage - 106 Years Ago

On this day in 1890, polygamy was officially banned by the Mormon Church. (This announcement followed on the heels of an 1890 Supreme Court ruling denying all privileges of U.S. citizenship to Mormons who practiced this outlawed form of marriage.)
(Tip of the gimme cap to

Hmm. Interesting. It would seem there is indeed ample historical and judicial precedent for the state taking an interest in the forms and definitions of marriage. Sort of takes the wind out of the argument for a constitutional right to marry whomever or whatever you desire.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

British Cemetary to Bury Everyone Facing Mecca

From WorldNetDaily:
A new, $4.7 million cemetery in Nottingham is the first public graveyard in the UK to have all its burial plots aligned with Mecca and to inter those of all faiths in the Muslim tradition.

All headstones at the 40-acre burial site will face northeast, enabling the dead to look over their shoulder toward Mecca, the manner prescribed for followers of Islam in the UK.

Church leaders have criticized the decision by local officials, saying that imposing a Muslim model on Christians, who traditionally are buried facing east, is discriminatory.

[...] Steve Dowling, the official with the Nottingham city council, said that he met with the city's Cemeteries Consultative Committee, a multi-faith group, before deciding on the Islamic burial plan. He made his decision, in part, on esthetics and the need for symmetry.

"For people of the Muslim faith this fits in with a religious requirement, but it will also ensure a tidy appearance for the site," he said. "People can choose to be buried facing another direction but if they do not specify that, they will be buried facing northeast. The vast majority of people do not express a preference."

Nigel Lymn Rose, past president of the National Association of Funeral Directors, said he had been surprised when he asked Dowling if the new cemetery had made accommodations for Muslims and Dowling answered, "Oh yes, we're burying everyone so they are aligned to Mecca. It will make things easier."

"It's one thing to be buried facing northeast because that is the way the cemetery lies, or the plot within it – it is quite another thing to learn that you have been buried facing that direction because it follows Islamic law," said Rose.

Even Raza Ul Haq, imam at the Madni Masjid Mosque, is bewildered by the decision.

"It is part of our religion for the dead to be aligned with Mecca. It is very important. But for Christians, if they want to face somewhere else we support them," he said.

Muslims make up less than five per cent
of the Nottingham region's 500,000 population.

I will no doubt need to go to confession for saying this, but I don't care if they bury me facing Mecca, just as long as the undertaker puts my middle fingers in the appropriate position.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Sleep Slaughtered for Satanic Rituals?

From This Is London:
Police are hunting "devil worshippers" after a series of sickening "satanic rite" attacks on sheep at a national park.

Around 100 animals have been found slaughtered and mutilated with their tongues, eyes and sexual organs removed on Dartmoor in Devon in the past year.

All of the bodies had been arranged in a satanic star shape on the floor or laid out in a circle with their necks broken.

Most of the blood-thirsty rituals have been carried out during a full moon.

In the latest attack farmer Charles Mudge, of Tavistock, Devon, found 30 of his flock dead with bizarre half-moon symbols carved into their flesh. He discovered all their bodies lying near a bloodstained stone altar and wooden stake.

"We are absolutely devastated. It is disgusting," he said. "We don't know how they're doing it. But they must be people with dogs and have got to be used to handling sheep."

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said the majority of incidents have taken place during a full moon.

She added: "The killings are becoming increasingly vicious. We currently have no suspects."

That’s just really creepy; it sounds like the start of a bad werewolf movie. How long before these whack jobs go from sheep to humans? Or perhaps it is merely a case of border collies gone over to the Dark Side.

What do they do with the, umm…“parts” they cut out? Do they eat them? Do they burn them as sacrifice to Lucifer, or Baal, or Moloch, or Cthulhu, or whatever? Do they make trinkets out of them? Lady Noseblotter: What an odd ashtray, Major! Where on earth did it come from? Major Chargecannons: Why, yes. (Harrumph) Got that little beauty during the annual Dagon orgy back in ‘06, my dear. By the way, you look truly lovely tonight. Have you ever considered a career as a temple prostitute?

On the other hand, one does hope these really are Satanists of some ilk, and their ceremonies aren’t just new alternative services for the Church of England. You never know, these days.

Moslems Demand Pope's Removal

From Lycos News:
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) - About 1,000 Muslim clerics and religious scholars meeting Thursday in eastern Pakistan demanded the removal of Pope Benedict XVI for making what they called "insulting remarks" against Islam.

Benedict "should be removed from his position immediately for encouraging war and fanning hostility between various faiths" and "making insulting remarks" against Islam, said a joint statement issued by the clerics and scholars at the end of their one-day convention.

The "pope, and all infidels, should know that no Muslim, under any circumstances, can tolerate an insult to the Prophet (Muhammad). ... If the West does not change its stance regarding Islam, it will face severe consequences," it said.

It is interesting that these imams believe they have the right to demand the removal of the (temporal) head of the Catholic Church, whom Catholics believe to be the Vicar of Christ on Earth. People will laugh this off, but it is a telling insight into the foundational worldview of a religion that believes it has the right, not to convert, but to rule, and which accepts no criticism from anyone outside the faith. One is reminded of the words of Tasnim Aslam from the Pakistani Foreign Ministry: "Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence."

Given the insults to the Pope and to Jesus Christ on the part of Moslem demonstrators recently – “Jesus is the slave of Allah,” and “Exterminate those who mock Islam,” and “Be prepared for the real holocaust” being typical (look at the news photos on the web, e.g. here, if you don’t believe me) – I am amazed that Catholics aren’t rioting in the streets. After all, the media will tell us that Christians are the real threat to world peace and brotherhood. Why aren’t they out there burning something? I guess they're too busy trying to spread the gospel and tend to widows and orphans.

What would have been the newspaper and television response to a demonstration where Christians demanded the removal of the local imam, or carried signs advocating the extermination of anyone? Sorry…rhetorical question.

Pray for the conversion of Islam.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Condemned Men Denied Confession and Eucharist

From Catholic World News
Authorities in Indonesia denied three Catholic men the right to attend Mass on the day before their execution, which was carried out on just after midnight on September 22, the AsiaNews service reports.

Fabianus Tibo, Marinus Riwu and Dominggus da Silva were scheduled to face a firing squad on early in the morning of September 21, but their execution was postponed for a day, without any official explanation. Prison officials refused to allow a priest to hear the men's confessions and celebrate Mass for them one last time on Thursday.

The officials' decision - along with an accompanying decision that the bodies of the three men cannot lie in state in the Paul cathedral - appears to violate Indonesian law, which stipulates that a prisoner's last wishes should be granted before execution.

On Thursday, human-rights groups were continuing their last-minute efforts to obtain clemency for the three men, who were convicted of organizing a massacre of Muslims during the religious fighting in the Sulawesi province in 2000. Their conviction came after a trial marked by many irregularities, with Islamic militants putting heavy pressure on the court. No Muslim has ever been convicted in connection with the religious warfare in Sulawesi.

The condemned men consistently claimed innocence of the crimes of which they were accused. My understanding of the situation is that their trial was pretty much a railroading. In any case, the denial of religious comfort is unconscionable.

In light of the worldwide outcry against the USA holding Jihadist prisoners in Gitmo, where they get special diets, Korans, and prayer rugs, I am waiting for the universal condemnation of the Indonesian government for this barbarism. And waiting…and waiting…

Does anyone even remember how to spell “hypocrisy” anymore?

Judea Capta Est?

From Yahoo News:
Something always gets lost in translation, but usually not an entire city.

"Jerusalem. There is no such city!" the Jerusalem municipality said in the English-language version of a sightseeing brochure it had published originally in Hebrew.

The correct translation: "Jerusalem. There is no city like it!"

Carrying a photograph of the brochure, Israel's Maariv newspaper said on Wednesday tens of thousands of flyers had been distributed before city hall realised its mistake.

It sounds like it was translated by Vespasian, or possibly by the president of Iran.

They should distribute the flyers to Hezbollah - they would likely injure themselves in the resulting celebration.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Dang - Guess I Missed the Rapture

From Catholic World News:
A doomsday cult in Kenya, the House of Yahweh, is refusing government orders to demolish bunkers that the group built in expectation of a global nuclear war the cult leaders had predicted for September 12.

In what threatens to be a major face-off between the sect and the government, the cult's leader Moshe Sang has said they would not demolish the bunkers because they are were places of worship. He says that the structures are therefore protected under Kenya's constitution, which guarantees freedom of worship.

Cult members had gone into the bunkers on September 12, carrying with them dried food and water awaiting the end of world civilization. They had constructed some equipment which, they said, would stop radioactive participles from penetrating their bunkers.

Government officials announced on September 18 that the House of Yahweh would be given 7 days to demolish the bunkers or face prosecution. Officials said that the structures are unsafe, likely to collapse, and not fit for human habitation.

"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Mat 24:36, RSV)

Obviously, they misread the Divine calendar. I used to believe that people who set the date for the Apocalypse were just loonies who never learned. I don’t think so anymore, however. I think it’s a deliberate attempt to manipulate people for current gain – money, power, or both – and, by the time the date passes uneventfully, you’ll have gotten what you wanted.

I have to ask the question. If the world were actually ending, where would you rather have Jesus find you? Hunkered down in a bunker? Or going about your business, tending to your responsibilities, and living like He told us to?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Parents Kidnap Daughter to Force Abortion

From WorldNetDaily:
The parents of a pregnant 19-year-old have been arrested after she told police that they kidnapped her and tied and gagged her, and were taking her to New York for a forced abortion.

Authorities in Maine said federal investigators may get involved in the case since it allegedly involved kidnapping someone to take them across a state line.

According to a report in the Manchester Union-Leader, arrested were Nicholas Kampf, 54, and Lola Kampf, 53.

They were arrested by Salem, N.H., police Friday after a 911 call came in to police from the couple's daughter, Katelyn, when she reported she had been kidnapped.

[…] Sgt. Ron Peddle said Katelyn Kampf was found by officers behind the shopping plaza, and her parents were arrested while driving around the parking lot, apparently looking for her. Police said they found duct tape, a .22-caliber rifle and rope in the couple's vehicle.

"No matter what the case is, this is not a rational way to deal with a family issue," Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion told the newspaper.

[…] Authorities reported Katelyn Kampf had been living in Portland with her boyfriend, and when her parents found out about the pregnancy they attacked her, tying her up and bundling her into the car.

[...] According to a report in the Boston Globe, the young woman had red marks left by the duct tape, but no other injuries.

The Globe said she had been attending Boston College, but was forced to move to George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where her parents paid for an apartment.

However, authorities said her parents reportedly found out she had quit, and that led them to Maine where they found her with the family of a man they had prohibited her from seeing.

Okay, I can have a lot of sympathy for parents who are at their wit’s end trying to deal with a troublesome daughter, and - reading between the lines - young Ms. Kampf sounds like she might be a handful. Our Beloved-but-Expensive Daughter is a source of great pride to Lovely-and-Faithful Wife and myself, and was a wonderful kid growing up. Even so, there were times when I thought I was going to have to kill her for the good of civilization. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to try to raise one that’s trouble.

Having said that, however, what the heck is this? Your daughter is giving you trouble, and your solution to the problem is to kill her baby? It is an extraordinarily sad commentary on the state of our society when this is the best idea parents can come up with to put their families back in order. Satan must be laughing his head off when a young woman has to call the police to keep her parents from killing her child. I understand why the police and the courts have to be involved now, but what all these people really need is a long set of counseling sessions with a really good priest – and, of course, a lengthy conversation with the Lord of All.

I take a lot of (well deserved, IMHO) shots at the Moslems, but I have to admit that there are pretty good reasons to fear the influence of Western culture. If I were in their place, I wouldn’t want it either.

Talk Like A Pirate, Arrr....

Today, Sept. 19th, is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Arrr, ye mutinous swabs, run out the guns and we’ll be launchin’ a broadside against the good ship Sissy Liberal and her scurvy crew! He who brings me the head of her captain wins a date with Anne Coulter! Arrr…

I should have brought the bird to work today and worn her on my shoulder.

(I would have included a picture of Blackbeard, but blogger is acting up.)

Quote of the Week (Possibly the Month)

From the Interior Minister of Switzerland, Pascal Couchepin, on the silliness of the controversy surrounding the Pope’s Regensburg speech:

“Whoever refuses to debate, reduces religion to emotions. And you'd then end up with a priest, an imam and a Buddhist monk sitting round a campfire singing songs together. That, at least for me, is not the point of religion.”

Mr. Couchepin has obviously not spent any time hanging around a modern American seminary, where he would probably be required to sit around the campfire with an imam and a Buddhist monk and sing songs.

Someones burning, Lord, kumbaya
Someones shooting, Lord, kumbaya
Someones bombing, Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya.

Save us, Oh Lord, from the devil, the Turk, and the comet. And from "modern" Christianity. Amen

Monday, September 18, 2006

An Inconvenient Statistic

The Burning of Smyrna, 1922From Gates of Vienna:
[…] At the beginning of the 20th century there were an estimated 4.5 million Christians in what is now Turkey, most of them Greek. In 1979 the Greek Orthodox population in Turkey was thought to be no more than 7,000, and is now down to about 2,000.

Where did all those Greeks go? Demetrios didn’t just turn to Sofia one day and say, “Darling, let’s load all our worldly goods onto the donkey cart and we’ll move to Athens or Thessalonica.” It’s not like Smyrna was proselytized by gentle imams who were so persuasive that the entire Greek population converted to Islam, gave up their Greek surnames, and took on Turkish ones instead.

No, Asia Minor was cleared of Greeks and Armenians in the traditional manner, by blood and fire, by the sword and the bullet, by rapine and looting and unimaginable slaughter. But this didn’t happen in 670, or 1084, or 1453, or 1683. It was in 1922, in the recently departed 20th century. It was the Rwanda and Darfur of the 1920s, and it occurred within living memory. Or it would be living, if the memory of it hadn’t been dumped down the oubliette along with all the other inconvenient facts that the bien-pensants would rather not think about.

Just something to think about, while you watch the Islamofascists riot, pillage, and burn because someone actually dared to criticize them.

(The picture is the burning of Smyrna, 84 years ago last Sunday. 400,000 Christians fled for their lives. 190,000 were never accounted for.)

Jealous Nun Shoots Priest for Seeing Another Woman

I really, really, really wish I were making this one up as a parody.

From ThisIsLondon:
A jealous nun appeared in court charged with threats to kill and an arson attack on a priest's house - after she caught him in bed with a married woman.

Sister Silvia Gomes De Sousa, 39, saw red and set fire to Father Carmelo Mantarro's house after she nabbed him 'in flagrante.'

The furious nun - who was also Father Carmelo's cleaner - was also armed with a machete and threatened to kill the priest before being restrained by passers by.

[…] The drama happened in the sleepy Italian village of Roccalumera near Messina on the island of Sicily and was the talk of the nation as it dominated TV and radio news programmes.

The saucy goings on were made even more interesting by father Carmelo's age - he is 70 years old - and is said to have been sleeping with both sister De Sousa and the other woman for several months.

[…] She told the hearing: "I just flipped when I came to the house and caught him in bed with another woman who is married.

"We had been together four years and I had even had two abortions because of him."

In a homily on June 29, 1972*, Pope Paul VI said “da qualche fessura sia entrato il fumo di Satana nel tempio di Dio,” which translates out to “through some fissure, the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.” This is just one more example. The priest involved in the incident above, who is now 70, would have been in his 20’s and 30’s back in the 1960’s. That’s when a lot of really bad things started to happen in the Roman Catholic Church. Even though the Church is repairing the damage, the evils haven’t all been stamped out yet,.and will probably continue to plague the world for a few decades to come.

On the other hand, I have to ask my standard question. Why don’t these people just join the Episcopal Church? They could keep the high-Church ritual, and continue to live as they apparently do now.

Proving Islam is Religion of Peace, Gunmen Kill Nun at Children's Hospital

From Yahoo News:
Gunmen killed an Italian nun at a children's hospital in Mogadishu on Sunday in an attack that drew immediate speculation of links to Muslim anger over the Pope's recent remarks on Islam.

The Catholic nun's guard also died from pistol shots in the latest attack on foreign personnel in volatile Somalia.

[…] The bodyguard died instantly, but the nun, from the Missionaries of the Consolation order based in Nepi near Rome, was rushed into an operating theater after being hit by three or four bullets in the chest, stomach and back.

"She died in the hospital treatment room," doctor Ali Mohamed Hassan told Reuters. "She was shot outside the hospital, going to her house just across the gate."

A nun from the Missionaries order identified her as sister Leonella Sgorbati, born in 1940, in Piacenza in northern Italy. In Somalia since 2002, she trained nurses at the SOS Kindergarten hospital.

[…] A senior Somali cleric interviewed by reporters could not provide any further clues behind the motive for the shooting, but said the Pope's comments cast Islam in the wrong light.

"The Pope's sentiments are part of the wrong misinterpretation against Islam by America, Israel, Britain and Russia," Sheikh Nur Barud, a senior Somali cleric said. "They insult the Muslim world, kill Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, their leader is (U.S. President George W.) Bush and the Pope is part of it."

Wow. A 66-year-old nun. Perhaps they are honing their skills preparatory for a dangerous assault on the School for the Blind.

By the way, has anyone in the press asked the obvious question? What kind of a society is it, where an elderly nun requires a bodyguard?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Three Cheers for Benedict XVI

"Islam is a religion of peace, and we'll cut the head off anyone who disagrees."

I've so completely had my fill of "Islamic rage" that I'm about to barf. Frankly, I hope His Holiness announces a new Crusade.


(Image courtesy of The Curt Jester.)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

News From the Ecumenical Front

Convert from Islam to Christianity killed
Somali Christian sources report Ali Mustaf Maka'il, a 22-year-old college student and cloth merchant who converted from Islam to Christianity 11 months ago, was shot and killed in the Manabolyo quarter of Mogadishu.

According to a report from the Barnabas Fund, quoting a Christian source inside Somalia, the gunman was loyal to the Union of Islamic Courts, the Islamist organization that took power in Mogadishu in early June and now controls much of southern Somalia.

The report states the gunman shot Ali in the back Sept. 7 after he refused to join a crowd chanting Quran verses in honor of the lunar eclipse. Solar and lunar eclipses are significant in Islam and are accompanied by special congregational prayers. The Union of Islamic Courts confiscated Ali's body for 24 hours before delivering it to the grieving family, the report said.

Pastors seek police help, get beatings
Christian pastors in India's "beautiful country" district in Karnataka state, where the government website highlights a native dance as a "common form of worship," are facing an apparently organized pattern of arrest, destruction of property and beatings for their faith.

A recent series of episodes highlighted by Voice of the Martyrs, which works with persecuted Christians worldwide, illustrates the concern.

The attacks started late one recent evening when a pastor's rented house was broken into by a gang of militant Hindus who accused Pastor Joseph of not bowing before Hindu gods, officials said.

Caliph will sit in Jerusalem
Head of the northern faction of the Islamic Movement Sheikh Raed Salah said Friday that “soon Jerusalem will be the capital of the new Muslim caliphate, and the caliph’s seat will be there.”

Salah addressed an audience of 50,000 attending the Islamic Movement’s 11th annual rally in Umm al-Fahm. “Caliph” refers to a leader of the Muslim nation and in Arabic means the “heir” or “substitute” of the prophet Muhammad.

Porn Drove me out of Navy, Says Chaplain
A Royal Navy chaplain quit the service after being told to turn a blind eye to pornography on board two warships, an employment tribunal was told yesterday.

The Rev Mark Sharpe, 37, was so horrified at the amount of pornography below decks that he left training after only a few weeks.

Mr Sharpe has brought a claim against the Ministry of Defence alleging sexual harassment, and discrimination on the grounds of religious affiliation.

Mr Sharpe was a policeman for more than 10 years before becoming a priest. He worked as a curate in York before joining the Navy as a trainee chaplain two years ago. The tribunal in Exeter, Devon, heard that he left the assault ship Albion after only two weeks of his sea training and complained that he had been driven out by pornography.

[…] Mr Sharpe said he was prevented from obeying canonical law and his oath of ordination by conditions aboard the warships.

He said special arrangements were made for Muslim sailors to say prayers five times a day but none were made for him even though he was a trainee chaplain.

5 Churches Attacked in Palestinian Areas
Palestinians wielding guns and firebombs attacked five churches in the West Bank and Gaza on Saturday, following remarks by Pope Benedict that angered many Muslims.

No injuries were reported in the attacks, which left church doors charred and walls pockmarked with bullet holes and scorched by firebombs. Churches of various denominations were targeted.

Relations between Palestinian Muslims and Christians are generally peaceful (as long as the Christians keep their mouths shut – TWA), and the attacks on the churches sparked concern that tensions would heighten.

[…] Firebombings left black scorch marks on the walls and windows of Nablus' Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches. At least five firebombs hit the Anglican church and its door was later set ablaze. Smoke billowed from the church as firefighters put out the flames

Of course, all us sophisticated folk know that the biggest threat to the future of civilization is really that impending Christian theocracy that’s right around the corner. Yeesh.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Lamest Alibi of the Year

It's Friday afternoon; everyone who works for a living is exhausted; nobody wants to be analytical for a couple of days. Here's an off-topic post, suitable for tired and warped minds, courtesy of Yahoo News:

A Nigerian murder suspect accused of killing his brother with an axe told police investigators he actually attacked a goat, which was only later magically transformed into his sibling's corpse, officials said Thursday.

The man, whose name wasn't released, offered police his explanation after his arrest on Tuesday in the death of his brother the previous day at Isseluku village in southern Nigeria.

"He said that the goats were on his farm and he tried to chase them away. When one wouldn't move, he attacked it with an axe. He said it then turned into his brother," Police Commissioner Udom Ekpoudom told the Associated Press.

Murder suspects in Nigeria, where many people believe in black magic, sometimes claim spirits tricked them into killing. In 2001, eight people were burned to death after one person in their group was accused of making a bystander's penis magically disappear.

I wonder if they have the insanity defense in Nigeria. It’s unfortunate for the perpetrator that he committed the act in Isseluku instead of in Los Angeles – he would likely be acquitted.

“If a goat was hit, you must acquit!”

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Muslim Militants Attack Catholic School in Kashmir

From Catholic World News:
Muslim fundamentalists attacked a Catholic school in India's Kashmir valley on Monday, demolishing a wall and smashing windows and furniture.

The Good Shepherd Mission School in Pulwama is run by a popular missionary priest, Father Jim Borst of the Dutch Mill Hill order, who has been in the region since 1963. Although Muslim militants persuaded the state government to begin proceedings to expel the priest in 2004, Christian groups campaigned successfully to reverse that order. A leading retreat preacher, Father Borst is credited with initiating the translation of the Bible into the Kashmiri language. The elderly priest - now in his 70s - is regularly sought by local Muslims and Hindus, as well as Christians, to comfort the sick and suffering.

During the September 11 attack on the missionary's school, the Muslim militants involved shouted slogans denouncing all Christian missionaries.

Good to know these brave warriors of The Religion of Peace can mount a successful strike against a 70-year-old priest. I wonder whether attacking a school still merits 72 virgins in the afterlife, or just gets you a cheap hooker on crack

I really do wish people would stop throwing the word “fundamentalist” around, however. Fundamentalism is a particular form of orthodox Christian belief that arose within American Protestantism at the close of the 19th century as a response to modernism in the Church. They were united in espousing what they considered a core set of Christian beliefs they believed critical to the Faith – the “fundamentals.” As a matter of fact, there is a four-volume set called The Fundamentals published in 1917. I may not be a fundamentalist myself, being way too Catholic, and trained as a scientist, but I know plenty - and not one has ever blown up a kindergarten, hijacked an airliner, or opened up with an AK-47 in the middle of a restaurant.

Referring to “fundamentalist Moslems” is the theological equivalent of referring to “Pentecostal Confucians” or “Calvinist Buddhists;” it is simply nonsensical. I am convinced that it is the result of a deliberate agenda to take a perfectly innocuous word, “fundamentalist,” apply it over and over and over to crazed whack jobs until it enters common usage, then reapply it to the original, innocent group as a form of slander.

It’s on the same level of intentional malice as Rosie O’Donnell equating the 9-11 terrorists with “radical Christianity.” If you want to find out what “radical Christianity” is really like, check out St. Francis or Mother Teresa! I’ve said it before, and I'll keep on saying it – anyone who can’t distinguish between a crazed dynamiter on a Jewish school bus and the Wheaton College English Department has abandoned any claim to credibility.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Episcopal Seminarian Opens Gay Dating Service

From Ekklesia:
A seminarian in the US has launched what is believed to be the world's first dedicated matchmaking site for gay Christians.

The site,, has been developed by 22 year old Justin R. Cannon for gay Christians looking for a life partner, friendship or even just a Bible study partner.

"Most GLBTQ Christians are excluded from joining Christian personals sites, and gay and other personals sites aren’t structured to meet their specific needs. The growing gay Christian demographic deserves a welcoming safe place tailored just for us" explains Cannon. emerged out of Cannon’s own recognition of the lack networking presence on the web for meeting other gay Christians.

[…] is believed to be the Internet’s only devoted gay Christians matchmaking site and already boasts almost 1700 members from more than 50 different countries.

One member raves, “ is awesome! I signed on and found a guy who lives right in my hometown. And the matchmaking service really did help…we have so much in common!”

Justin Cannon was raised in the Episcopal Church, and later interest in Catholic, Orthodox, and Quaker theologies led towards an ecumenical perspective that recognizes a deep sense of unity among Christians that transcends the walls of denominations.

He is currently attending seminary at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California (USA) as he pursues priesthood within the Episcopal Church.

Perhaps next year he will be kind enough to launch a website to match Christian drug addicts with Christian pushers.

Pray for the souls of those misled by Mr. Cannon and his friends. May God help those who he may someday be given to pastor, may God help Mr. Cannon, and may God help us all who have helped bring society to this point. Luke 17:2 continually comes to mind these days.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Jesus in Japan?

A Japanese legend claims that Jesus escaped Jerusalem and made his way to Aomori in Japan where he became a rice farmer. Christians say the story is nonsense. However, a monument there known as the Grave of Christ attracts curious visitors from all over the world.

To reach the Grave of Christ or Kristo no Hakka as it is known locally, you need to head deep into the northern countryside of Japan, a place of paddy fields and apple orchards.

Halfway up a remote mountain surrounded by a thicket of bamboo lies a mound of bare earth marked with a large wooden cross.

Most visitors peer at the grave curiously and pose in front of the cross for a photograph before heading off for apple ice cream at the nearby cafe.

But some pilgrims leave coins in front of the grave in thanks for answered prayers.

The cross is a confusing symbol because according to the local legend, Jesus did not die at Calvary.

His place was taken by one of his brothers, who for some reason is now buried by his side in Japan.

The story goes that after escaping Jerusalem, Jesus made his way across Russia and Siberia to Aomori in the far north of Japan where he became a rice farmer, married, had a family and died peacefully at the age of 114.

[…] the legend of Jesus the rice farmer does not stretch back very far. It only began in the 1930s with the discovery of what were claimed to be ancient Hebrew documents detailing Jesus' life and death in Japan.

Those documents have now mysteriously disappeared and the grave has never been excavated.

There is also a tomb of Jesus in India, and legends of Jesus passing through Persia, Afghanistan, Tibet, and you-name-it. I’m surprised some apostate Mormon hasn’t set up a “tomb of Jesus” in Sioux Falls. According to the Moslem legend, Jesus was swapped out for Judas by an act of God, and it was Judas who got hung on the cross. And, of course, there are all those variations on the Da Vinci Code theme, with Jesus running off with Mary Magdalene.

The lust for arcane knowledge, for “I know something you don’t know,” seems to be one of mankind’s most irresistible temptations. The Gnostics were the first great competitors for Christianity, with all their Hidden Secrets of the Universe. They have never disappeared - The Paulicians, the Bogomils, the Albigenses – heck, you can probably find a Gnostic or two at most Episcopal seminaries. The New Agers and most of those wacko cults that flourish around the edges of Christianity are cut from the same cloth.

From personal experience, however, I can’t help but think a lot of what passes for modern “Biblical scholarship” is driven by the same motivation, the desire to find some secret reality that the great unwashed aren’t privy to. I remember sitting in a Sunday School class one time at a “mainline Protestant” church which was being led by the seminarian assigned to the parish that year. The rector was sitting in. The whole purpose of the class seemed to be the deconstruction of Isaiah into an intellectual construct devoid of any significance other than “being in on the secret.” Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against historical research. I read up on that sort of thing when I have the chance. There are magnificent libraries for that purpose; it is not, however, what I come to church for.

Both the priest and the seminarian seemed unable to grasp that most of us didn’t give the hind end of a naked-tailed rodent (that is, a rat’s a~s) about the historical deconstruction of Isaiah. I remember a visitor at one session making a deep and lengthy comment relating a passage of text to the whole idea of the communion of saints. The response from the seminarian was, “That’s very profound, but let’s get back to our historical analysis.”

Whether there was one Isaiah, two Isaiahs, three Isaiahs, or whole tribe of guys named Isaiah, what people wanted to know is, “What is it saying to us?” A little history can help interpret that, but I’m really more interested in knowing what the great Rabbis, the Apostles, and the Fathers of the Church thought about it than I am in what Johann Doederlein or Bernard Duhm theorized about the book's authorship. After all, canonicity got settled a long time ago. The whole thing was sad, and I quit going after the first week. Perhaps I should have stuck around, but by that time I had one foot out the door of the church anyway.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Prayers for September 11th

ALMIGHTY God, the supreme Governor of all things, whose power no creature is able to resist, to whom it belongeth justly to punish sinners, and to be merciful to those who truly repent; Save and deliver us, we humbly beseech thee, from the hands of our enemies; that we, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore from all perils, to glorify thee, who art the only giver of all victory; through the merits of thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O LORD God of Hosts, stretch forth, we pray thee, thine almighty arm to strengthen and protect the soldiers of our country; Support them in the day of battle, and in the time of peace keep them safe from all evil; endue them with courage and loyalty; and grant that in all things they may serve without reproach; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O ETERNAL Lord God, who alone spreadest out the heavens, and rulest the raging of the sea; Vouchsafe to take into thy almighty and most gracious protection our country’s Navy, and all who serve therein. Preserve them from the dangers of the sea, and from the violence of the enemy; that they may be a safeguard unto the United States of America, and a security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions; that the inhabitants of our land may in peace and quietness serve thee our God, to the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead; We give thee thanks for all those thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence, that the good work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, guide, we beseech thee, the Nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, we remember this day before thee thy faithful servants, and we pray thee that, having opened to them the gates of larger life, thou wilt receive them more and more into thy joyful service; that they may win, with thee and thy servants everywhere, the eternal victory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(1928 Book of Common Prayer)

Woman Loses "Wrongful Birth" Suit

From The Scotsman (UK):
A young mother who lost a groundbreaking battle for £250,000 compensation after giving birth to an "aborted" twin daughter yesterday vowed to appeal against the decision.

Stacy Dow launched the action - the first of its kind in Britain - earlier this year, convinced she had not been given proper warning by NHS medics that termination operations do not always guarantee success.

But following a court's decision to reject the action, Miss Dow, 21, of Perth, said she was determined to fight on.

[…] The single mother decided to take the case to court, hoping to force the hospital to pay for the upbringing of her child.

Five years ago, at the age of 16, Miss Dow discovered she was pregnant. After much soul-searching and fearing she could not cope with premature motherhood, she went to Perth Royal Infirmary for an abortion.

But seven weeks from term, she was told that one of the foetuses had survived the abortion and in August 2001 she gave birth to a baby daughter, Jayde.

[…] "Jayde started school two weeks ago and is enjoying it. I still want to do the best for her, but it's exhausting dealing with the legal side."

The poor child! What are they going to tell her as she grows up? “Mommy, please tell me the story of how you tried to kill me, then tried to get the government to pay for me. Don’t leave out the part where my sister wound up incinerated as medical waste.” I realize the young mother was only 16 at the time, and Lord only knows what passes for thought in the head of a 16-year-old these days, so I suspect there was many an adult complicit in this sordid and tragic affair.

It is numbing how we talk around all this as if it were a problem for accountants and attorneys. May God have mercy on us all; there are very few of us who haven't sinned in this debate, whether by commission or omission. I know there was a time in my life many years ago when I thought abortion was no big deal; now the consequences of that flawed belief are too obvious to ignore.

By the way, the story continues, describing the reason Miss Dow’s claim for compensation was denied:

[…] NHS trust advocate David Stephenson added: "NHS patients don't contract with health trusts or health boards for medical treatment. There's no contractual relationship between the NHS patient and the NHS service provider."

Take a few minutes, sit back, and ponder the full implications of that last sentence, all you supporters of government-managed health care.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Wheelchair-Bound Woman Blasts Would-Be Mugger

From AM New York:
Deron Johnson picked the wrong person to rob - an ailing Harlem woman on a motorized scooter who pulled out a .357 caliber handgun and shot him in front of stunned passersby in broad daylight Friday, police said.

Margaret Johnson, a 57-year-old licensed gun owner, was looking to fire her weapon, but it was supposed to be at a firing range, police said.

She left her Lenox Avenue home shortly before 3 p.m. with plans to go to the range. Instead, she was confronted from behind by the suspect, Deron Johnson, no relation, police said.

The 45-year-old ex-con grabbed at the chain around the victim's neck, and snatched it from her, police said.

But Margaret Johnson put up quite a struggle, police said, and was able to fire once from her handgun, striking the suspect in the left elbow.

The suspect ran off, but was grabbed nearby by police and arrested. He was taken to Harlem Hospital Center in stable condition. Charges were pending.

Margaret Johnson was questioned by detectives but will not be charged.

"She was defending herself," a police source said.

The suspect has nine previous arrests, police said. State records show he served 8 years in prison for a drug conviction and was released in February 2003.

If the lady really did have a .357, I’m surprised the thug had an arm left. Perhaps she was using .38 ammo, which is a lot less expensive than .357 Magnum.

I know there are many Christians who don’t care much for handguns. I’m from Texas, however, and I find this to be a simple matter of justice. I don’t question the motives of my more pacifistic friends, but I do question their judgment, and the consequences thereof. Here is a perfect example of someone – an invalid woman who can’t walk, in Harlem, a (relatively) crime-ridden are of New York – who, without an “equalizer” would otherwise be doomed to victimhood. Not only is self-defense among the most basic of human rights; self-defense is common defense. Someone who prevents the success of a criminal has not only benefited himself, but the entire community of which he is a member. It is one thing to pray for the conversion and salvation of the criminal; it is another thing entirely to facilitate his existence.

You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you do afflict them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless. (Exo 22:22-24, RSV)

learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. (Isa 1:17, RSV)

Failure to defend is not virtue, it is complicity with evil.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

For The-End-Times-Are-Upon-Us File:

Some items from the news, passed along without comment.

Palestinians burn West Bank YMCA

Palestinian gunmen today attacked and set fire to the Young Men's Christian Association headquarters in Qalqiliya, a large West Bank city controlled by Hamas.

Local government sources identified the attackers as members of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups, saying the identities of the gunmen are "well known" to Qalqiliya's security forces, which are controlled by the Hamas government.

Today's arson follows a series of warnings by the Muslim leadership of Qalqilya accusing the city's YMCA of missionary activity and demanding the Christian organization close its offices and leave town or face likely Muslim violence.

Christian beaten for drinking water

A Christian man is recovering from a beating that left him with a broken collarbone and dislocated shoulder after he drank water from a glass reserved for the poor at a construction site in Pakistan.

[…] The report said Nasir Ashraf, a Christian stonemason, was working on the construction of a room at a school near Manga Mandi outside of Lahore when he got thirsty and took a break.

Saudi Arabia's Religious Police Issue Ban on Pet Cats, Dogs

Saudi Arabia's religious police, normally tasked with chiding women to cover themselves and ensuring men attend mosque prayers, are turning to a new target: cats and dogs.

The police have issued a decree banning the sale of the pets, seen as a sign of Western influence.

The prohibition on dogs may be less of a surprise, since conservative Muslims despise dogs as unclean. But the cat ban befuddled many, since Islamic tradition holds that the Prophet Muhammad loved cats — even in one instance letting a cat drink from his ablutions water before washing himself for prayers.

Retailers peddle padded bras for girls

Breast-enhancing padded bras for girls as young as six are being sold in Victorian shops.

Childhood experts have warned parents they could be baiting pedophiles by dressing their young girls as raunchy women.

Tiny matching lingerie sets of lacy bras and knickers in many children's brands including Bratz, Saddle Club and Barbie, have hit the shelves aimed at girls who are barely old enough for school.

Modern evangelism? (Muslims 2, Anglicans 0)

Chasing a comment from a reader that led to a blog down under, it certainly seems that there’s another bizarre angle in the already hot story of the forced conversions of those Fox News journalists, American Steve Centanni and New Zealander Olaf Wiig, to Islam.

It appears that the leaders of the so-called Holy Jihad Brigades did not come up with this gunpoint conversion idea. No, this concept came from the Rev. Canon Andrew White, an Anglican leader at the Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle East.

Christian Arrested for Distributing Bible Quotes Opposing Homosexuality

SOUTH WALES, United Kingdom, September 7, 2006 ( - A prominent Christian leader arrested for passing out leaflets at a homosexual Mardi Gras festival was charged solely on the basis that the material presented views opposing homosexuality, the Daily Mail reported yesterday.

[…] South Wales Police admitted Mr. Green was arrested because the pamphlets contained Bible quotes condemning homosexual activity. A spokesman for the police confirmed the evangelical Christian had not behaved in a violent or aggressive manner, according to the Daily Mail, but said Mr. Green was arrested by the South Wales Minorities Support Unit because “the leaflet contained Biblical quotes about homosexuality.”

Trusted minister who fleeced his flock

A church minister who befriended elderly parishioners before forging documents to inherit their property and possessions was given 240 hours community service yesterday.

Tony Craggs appeared the caring and enthusiastic minister the village of Charlesworth had been crying out for.

[…] He was caught when one of them, Margaret Shaw, made an unexpected recovery after suffering a stroke and a brain haemorrhage. When she returned home from hospital, where Craggs, 43, had given her the last rites, she found he had forged her will, leaving her house to him.

Priest admits Madonna bomb hoax

A 63-year-old Dutch priest has confessed to making a hoax bomb threat in an attempt to stop a concert by US pop star Madonna, prosecutors say.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Bible Codes? Shaddupaboudit!

Italian police are seeking help from the American FBI in an effort to decode a secret message which, they believe, Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano may have hidden in a family Bible.

Italian prosecutors have been unable to interpret the extensive notes that Provenzano kept in the Bible. Theorizing that the notes may have been messages to other Mafia leaders, they have sent the Bible to the FBI to be examined by cryptology experts.

Provenzano, believed to be the top leader of the Mafia, was arrested in April at a home in Corleone, Sicily. At the time of his capture he had five copies of the Bible in his possession, including his own annotated version. He quickly asked to have that copy brought to him in jail. (Police declined that request, giving him a plain edition instead.)

Italian authorities suspect that the copies of the Bible could have been used as a means of passing messages among Mafia leaders, including those behind bars, since prisoners are routinely allowed to have a Bible.

Well, this is certainly represents a distinct change in the tenor of the Bible Codes – from “Yitzhak Rabin: an assassin will assassinate,” to “Big Louie gonna sleep with the fishes.” So whatsamatta? Yo, if it’s good enough for da Big Guy, it’s good enough for da Familia! Capice?

How "Vegetative" is that "Vegetative State?"

From Yahoo News for 9/7/06:
Advanced brain scanning uncovered startling signs of awareness in a woman in a vegetative state, British scientists reported Thursday - a finding that complicates one of medicine's ethical minefields.

Many of us really don’t find this particular issue to be that much of an ethical minefield. Most ethical decisions are not that complicated; they are usually just uncomfortable and hard to live up to. I know when I find myself in a “complicated” ethical situation, it is usually because I am trying to weasel out of something. I don’t like it, but it isn’t really all that “complicated.”

The work is sure to elicit pleas from families desperate to know if loved ones deemed beyond medical help have brain activity that doctors don't suspect. "Can he or she hear and understand me?" is a universal question.

It's far too soon to raise hopes, the British researchers and U.S. brain specialists stress. There's no way to know if this 23-year-old woman, brain-damaged over a year ago, will recover, and therefore if her brain activity meant anything medically. Her brain injury may not be typical of patients in a vegetative state.

Can someone explain that sentence to me? She only matters if she can recover, but if she can’t get better, then what she is now “doesn’t mean anything?” I don’t mean to put words in the reporter’s mouth - maybe he means something else - but that is how the statement comes across to me.

Scientists don't even agree on whether the woman had some real awareness - she seemed to follow, mentally, certain commands - or if her brain was responding more automatically to speech.

"This is just one patient. The result in one patient does not tell us whether any other patient will show similar results, nor whether this result will have any bearing on her," cautioned neuroscientist Adrian Owen of Britain's Medical Research Council. He led the novel brain-scanning experiment, reported in the journal Science.

But if we don’t know, then shouldn’t we default on the side of not killing them?

[…] "It raises the questions of ethics and experience of these patients, I think, to a new level," said neuroscientist Joy Hirsch of New York's Columbia University Medical Center. "It raises the tension about how we treat these patients."

But, "making medical decisions based on this information at this point in time we say is not appropriate," warned Hirsch, who is conducting similar research and already receives "just heartwrenching" requests for help.

Ultimately, in the case of people who aren’t dying (i.e. just being fed and hydrated), this isn’t a medical decision at all. It is a moral decision. Medical decisions involve questions of best treatment, or whether a particular treatment is a waste of time. There may indeed be medical decisions about whether attempts at rehabilitation are warranted. The question that occupies society, however, as demonstrated in the case of Terri Schiavo, is whether to feed and water such folk - and that is not a matter of medicine.

The woman was injured in a car crash. By the time Owen scanned her brain five months later, she had been pronounced in a vegetative state - physically unresponsive to a battery of tests. A small percentage of people make some recovery after spending a short period in a vegetative state.

Those who don't improve after a longer period are classified as in a "persistent vegetative state," such as the late Terry Schiavo, who became a subject of political controversy over the question of taking such patients off life support. An autopsy showed she had irreversible brain damage…

[…] Owen and colleagues contend their fMRI experiment showed the car-crash victim had some preserved conscious awareness despite her vegetative state.

How could they tell? First, they checked that she could process speech. Upon being told "there was milk and sugar in the coffee," the fMRI showed brain regions reacting the same in the woman and in healthy volunteers.

Then came the big test. Owen told the woman to perform a mental task — to imagine herself playing tennis and walking through her house. Motor-control regions of her brain lit up like they did in the healthy people he compared with her.

"There is no other explanation for this than that she has intentionally decided to involve herself in the study and do what we asked when we asked," Owen said in an interview.

Other scientists say that's not clear-cut…

Again, if it’s not clear cut, feed them! You’re not being required to take them dancing, or buy them season tickets to the Cowboys games, for heaven’s sake!